NSW outmuscled Maroons forwards, says Dowling
Former Maroons hardman Greg Dowling says prop David Shillington must start next month’s State of Origin series decider to quell an aggressive NSW pack which so far has Queensland’s measure.
Shillington claimed a slice of Origin history in the Maroons’ 16-12 loss to NSW on Wednesday night as the first to win the team’s players’ player award starting off the bench.
His uncompromising 157 metres on a highly-physical night almost matched starting prop Matt Scott (159m) and was 51 metres better than veteran Petro Civoniceva carved out in a brutal clash which caught the selectors’ eyes.
With injury concerns over star fullback Billy Slater (knee), Corey Parker (leg cut) and Sam Thaiday, who missed Origin II with a shoulder injury, Queensland selectors might be forced to make some tough calls for the first time in several years before settling on a 17-man squad for the decider.
Greg Inglis looks the logical man to replace Slater but they could play Darius Boyd at fullback or even blood Bulldogs’ try-scoring genius Ben Barba.
“We’re not panicking. We’ll sit down and look at our options and get injury updates after the weekend,” said Queensland chairman of selectors Des Morris on Thursday.
Dowling believes one of those options must be to promote Shillington into the firing line from the outset.
Heavily involved in some of Origin’s most vicious clashes during the 1980s, Dowling said the Blues’ series-levelling victory ranked up with the most ferocious he’d seen.
“They went at each other from the time new boy Tim Grant slammed into his teacher Petero with the first charge of the night,” said Dowling.
Dowling admired Shillington’s courage on a fierce night.
“They bashed him and he kept saying ‘bring it on’ – that’s what you need,” said Dowling.
“Queensland got swept away up front and it was much the same in the first game. They just gave it to us for the first 20 minutes.
“Credit to Queensland, they kept coming back – they always do, but we have to find a way to match that power up front early.”
Shillington has started in two of his six Origins for a 34-6 win in game two in 2010 and a 28-16 loss in game three the previous year.
“I’d love to be out there for the first whistle but I don’t think anything needs to change from that game, one to 17, provided everyone is fit,” said the Raiders’ giant.
Dowling, meanwhile, felt South Sydney forward Dave Taylor let slip a great opportunity to make an Origin statement replacing Thaiday.
“He (Taylor) struggles in Origin and I don’t know why,” said Dowling.
“The stage was set for him to go out and put his stamp of authority on it and he never did.”
Queensland missed Thaiday’s intimidation when the Blues’ big men went hunting Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston.
“Sam would have relished the way the game was played and I think Queensland missed him more than they thought they would,” said Dowling.
“They’ve got a real challenge on their hands in the decider with NSW having all the momentum.”© AAP 2013